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Bed Basics
Bed Basics

Get Matched With Victoria Graves

A headshot of Victoria Graves against a blue background. Text reads: Get Matched with Victoria Graves
Leo Medrano

There’s no sleep like the sleep you get on your perfect bed. And there’s no one better than a Sleep Expert® at Mattress Firm to help match you to that ideal mattress for you. Our Sleep Experts have over 200 hours of training per year to help them understand how to match you with your perfect bed to get the sleep you need to be your best.

Sleep Expert® Victoria Graves has worked at Mattress Firm for three years and is currently at the Mattress Firm in South Portland, ME. She shares her tips for finding your perfect mattress and opens up about the importance of your sleep environment.

What Is Your Sleep Philosophy?

I see sleep as one of the most important pieces to the puzzle of life. The human body is pretty amazing if you think about it. When we sleep, we are healing, repairing and refreshing our mind, body and soul. This is why prioritizing sleep is such a necessity—it’s crucial to maintaining a healthy, balanced life.

How Does Getting Matched Help Customers Sleep Better?

What you think you need might be something entirely different than what you actually need. Our mission as Sleep Experts is to help people sleep well so they can live well! In a nutshell, we’re sleep nerds! We go through over 200 hours of training per year so that we can provide educated, solution-based recommendations for your specific needs. With our consultative approach, your mattress shopping experience becomes easy, informative and enjoyable. This is why getting matched in-store is so important. There isn't just a one-size-fits-all; it’s a very personalized experience getting matched with the right sleep system. And when you find your match, you really do sleep better.

How Important Is Coming to a Store in Person When Shopping for a Mattress?

Finding a mattress can feel so overwhelming in the beginning. There’s SO much out there… Where do you even start? This is why it is so important to visit a store, because finding the right mattress matters!

Coming to a store helps you get a sense of what feels best. And feel is so subjective!

For example, I had a guest come in this week who was adamant she needed firm and firm only! Through our qualifying process of MattressMatcher®, we uncovered that she had been struggling with serious shoulder pain issues for nearly a decade. She said firm was the only thing that was going to help her, but every mattress she tried over the last ten years just caused her more pain.

She is a side sleeper, so my expert recommendation was to try medium instead for more support. Firm can be great support if you are a back or stomach sleeper. However, studies show that for side sleepers, medium is far more pressure-relieving on the shoulders and hips. Firm can create resistance to those areas that can cause pain on their own or agitate pre-existing pain points, which may very well be what is causing her pain!

This customer was hesitant at first to try my recommendations, but eventually, she agreed to at least try the medium. Immediately after lying on her side on the medium mattress, she felt relief from the harsh pushback of all the firms she'd tried thus far. She was so surprised to find what finally felt good on her shoulders in a softer-rated mattress. She finally found "the one" she’d been looking for all this time. After a week of sleeping on her new mattress, I followed up, and she was so thankful for the recommendations to try something different than what she thought she needed. Because what she was really asking for was support, not firmness. Which is why it is so important to seek help from an expert.

If You Could Give People One Piece of Advice When Mattress Shopping, What Would It Be?

My best advice is to break it into steps: Feel, Foundation and Sleep Environment!

First, find the feel!

Extra firm/firm is great for primarily stomach and back sleepers. Medium is a friendly territory for all sleepers, but I would especially recommend starting on a medium if you side sleep at all. The soft territory is a preferential comfort level that can be great for all sleepers but, more specifically, is best for side sleepers.

But how do you know if it’s too soft or too firm for you? I’ll show you a trick! Imagine yourself standing up against a wall; there’s a gap behind your neck, lumbar and behind your knees. You want the mattress to fill in those areas but not push you too high or too low into the mattress. If the mattress is pushing you too high out of the bed, there will be a space behind your lumbar. That means it’s too firm for you. On the other hand, if all the gaps are filled in but the mattress is allowing your hips to sink lower than your shoulders, it’s too soft! You want that Goldilocks “just right” feeling where your body stays aligned from neck to shoulders, shoulders to hips.

Additionally, I would encourage you to be fitted for a pillow according to your sleep position to keep you aligned as you compare mattresses.

Once you find the firmness, explore the different technologies that also affect the feel. The four categories of technology are:

  • Traditional innerspring coil
  • All foam
  • Hybrid (a combination of 2 technologies)
  • Flexible grid, which is the newest technology

Each offers a unique feel, but to simplify how they differ, coil and grid, you feel more ON the bed. Your body stays more lifted outside of the bed. Foam and hybrid, you feel more IN the bed since they conform and contour around your body.

Once you find the feel and favorite technology, it’s important to pair your mattress with the right foundation. It’s like building a house! You don’t want to build a brand-new house on an old, cracked or unsupported foundation. Follow manufacturer guidelines for the mattress brand. Many brands offer a foundation made specifically for their mattresses, whether it’s a box spring, platform frame or adjustable base.

Finally, you have your sleep environment, which consists of your sheets, protectors, blankets, etc. Pair your mattress with the right depth of pocket and the right level of temperature management to ensure you sleep comfortably through the night.

What Are Some of the Most Common Sleep Issues People Are Trying To Solve?

The most common sleep disrupters people see solutions for are pain management, temperature management and snoring or sleep apnea. Many people deal with a combination of these issues. If you’re experiencing pain, you’re more apt to be tossing and turning to alleviate that discomfort. If your body temperature is spiking throughout the night, you are likely moving around to kick off the covers, switching positions away from a partner, turning a fan on, etc. Lastly, whether it’s you yourself or a partner snoring, it always disrupts both sleepers. Sleep apnea, especially, can be a very scary thing, as it can lead to many other health issues if not addressed. The combination of them all makes for an extremely restless night and an even longer day!

As Sleep Experts®, we help people solve these sleep disruptors through solution-based recommendations. As I mentioned, many people are dealing with a combination of issues. This is all the more reason it is important to be matched with the right products for YOU! The right mattress matters, but so does the right foundation and sleep environment. Combined, they can address almost all sleep disruptors.

What’s a Product That People Often Overlook or Underestimate, and Why Is It Underrated?

One of the most overlooked, underestimated, and surprising products is, without a doubt, an adjustable base. Most people think an adjustable base is just a hospital bed only meant for the elderly, sick or disabled. On the other hand, they believe it’s a nonessential luxury item to lounge or watch TV with. Are those benefits of the base? Yes! But that’s only scratching the surface as far as benefits! Tired of those sleepless nights from your partner snoring? Tired of waking up with heartburn or even congestion/sinus pressure from allergies or illness? Elevating your head with an adjustable base can help take pressure off the chest, relax the esophagus, and open your airways more to help alleviate snoring/sleep apnea. It will also put gravity in your favor to alleviate congestion and sinus pressure.

Are you restlessly tossing and turning because your body hurts? The Zero Gravity position lifts your head and feet into a position that provides the most pressure relief and support to your entire body. You can instantly feel it melt away pressure from the lower back, hips and spine, allowing you to sleep more comfortably. Elevating your legs above the heart is also highly beneficial for relieving swelling and inflammation and supporting healthy blood flow/circulation. Some adjustable bases even have a lumbar support feature, which is phenomenal for adding a more customized support system for ALL sleepers. Even belly sleepers!

Don't have any health issues? You can still benefit greatly from a preventative standpoint. Why wait for the pain to start before properly supporting your spine and quality of sleep? We have a saying, "Friends don't let friends sleep FLAT!" And that’s because we care! The benefits are endless to the adjustable base, which is why it is so highly recommended by doctors and chiropractors to sleep with elevation.

How Worth It Is a Pillow Fitting, and How Often Should You Get One?

Having the right pillow is just as important as having the right mattress! If you think about it, it takes up one-fourth of your entire sleep surface! If your neck is out of alignment, your entire body will feel it. The loft of your pillow plays the biggest part in finding your perfect pillow match. A low loft is great for stomach and back sleepers exclusively. Medium loft is your all-position territory but is best for side and back sleepers. High loft is for side sleepers who have broader shoulders, which means you have a larger area to fill between the mattress and your neck for the best support. A good pillow goes a long way! Pillows have a shorter life span than your mattress does, so I would highly recommend switching them out every two to five years, depending on the brand.

What’s the Best Improvement Someone Could Make to Their Sleep Space to Get Better Sleep?

Take the time to tailor your space to solve your specific sleep needs. This starts with getting matched with your perfect mattress and trickles all the way down to small details such as the amount of light or sound in your room.

What Are Your Favorite Mattresses, Pillows or Bases to Recommend?

My all-time favorite mattress is the Tempur-Pedic LuxeBreeze Soft paired with the ProSmart Ergo Adjustable Base! It’s your most cooling, most pressure-relieving mattress on the market! Plus, the ProSmart has all the essential features like lumbar, wind-down mode, sleep tracking, and more! My favorite feature, which I never thought I’d use but now can’t live without, is, for sure, the winddown mode. My favorite pillow is the Tempur-Pedic Adapt Cloud Cooling! It stays the cold side of the pillow all night long and conforms right to my neck for the best support. However, my best option won’t be everyone’s best option. This is the beauty of getting matched: You get to find what works best for YOU.

What’s Your Bedtime Routine?

As a parent, it's really hard to find time for yourself, let alone most other things in life. I used to have a structured bedtime routine for my kiddo but a scattered one for myself. So, I took a page out of the Sleep Expert handbook and changed that!

I worked to create a sleep environment and routine that allowed me to unwind and relax. About one to two hours before bedtime, I switch from bright overhead lighting to soft lighting to cue my body's internal time clock that it's time to start unwinding for bed. A nice hot shower or bath at night can help relax the body and wash away the day's stress, too. Then, I usually throw on my favorite pair of cozy jammies and maybe light a lavender candle or another aromatherapy scent to create a more relaxing environment.

The nice thing about my bedtime routine is I can incorporate it into my daughter's routine, too. We can spend that precious time relaxing together with a storybook or some soft sleep sounds after a bath and jammies. The biggest piece to our routine is that we take the time to slow down and unwind at the end of the day!

Do You Have Any Sleep Tips You Love Sharing? What Are They?

Sleep environment and sleep hygiene are huge! Your environment helps you relax, like cozy sheets, cooling protectors, soft lighting, sound machines, etc. A consistent sleep routine will keep your body's circadian rhythm, or internal time clock, in synch. So be consistent with your routine, make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature.

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